Sunday, October 5, 2008
Insightful observations about Gov Sarah Palin.
Meghan O'Rourke offered one of the more insightful observations I've seen about Gov Sarah Palin's self-presentation:
Sarah Palin reminds me of a character in a George Saunders story. Saunders writes brilliant short stories about characters trapped in the American DreamTM. They are workers at theme parks or Hooters-style restaurants, mummified in corporate-sponsored "flair" (to borrow from the brilliant film Office Space). They speak in the same style of substanceless perk. They are to humanity what MSG is to flavor. (At least, some are.) Palin is, of course, far more successful than many of Saunders' characters, and I don't make the comparison merely to caricature her but to capture what I think is crucial about her. She buys into a whole vocabulary of signifiers that often don't signify very much, and she scaffolds that lexicon with winks, smiles, and carefully mimed gestural reinforcement. All politicians employ empty rhetoric, of course. But I don't know that I've ever seen one employ superficial language with such a sense of palpable enjoyment at her (or his, of course) mastery. And just like Saunders' characters, she refuses to show vulnerability or hesitation, deploying rapid-fire prepackaged phrases like a missile shield, as if the silence that comes with groping for ideas were deadly. . . .
A lot of the original media coverage of Palin was confused by things about her that derive, it seems to me, from the fact that she's a woman in the West. . . . But what's *not* Western about Palin is how avidly she's borrowed and inhabited the language of cute-can-do-ism that's exploited by companies to lull workers into taking pleasure in how much of their time is given over to "breakout sessions" and the business of being an employee.
Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias calls Palin "the metacandidate," expanding on an observation made by Jim Henley to argue that "ordinary people prefer a candidate who talks about the problems facing ordinary people rather than a candidate who talks about how she's a symbolic instantiation of the Idea of Ordinariness." After all, who in America really thinks of themselves as "Joe Sixpack"?
Of course, you might also enjoy "Saturday Night Live"'s take on the vice presidential debate:
Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 5 October 2008 at 9:12 PM